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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Chapter 1 - Constituent and Formal Provisions

1 Republic of South Africa

1. The Republic of South Africa shall be one, sovereign state.

2. The national territory of the Republic shall comprise the areas defined in Part 1 of Schedule 1.

2 National symbols

1. The national flag of the Republic shall be the flag the design of which is determined by the President by proclamation in the Gazette.

2. The national anthem of the Republic shall be as determined by the President by proclamation in the Gazette.

3. The coat of arms of the Republic and the seal of the Republic under the previous Constitution shall be the national coat of arms of the Republic and the seal of the Republic under this Constitution.

3 Languages

(1) Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, siSwati, Xitsonga, Setswana, Tshivenda, isiXhosa and isiZulu shall be the official South African languages at national level, and conditions shall be created for their development and for the promotion of their equal use and enjoyment.

(2) Rights relating to language and the status of languages existing at the commencement of this Constitution shall not be diminished, and provision shall be made by an Act of Parliament for rights relating to language and the status of languages existing only at regional level, to be extended nationally in accordance with the principles set out in subsection (9).

(3) Wherever practicable, a person shall have the right to use and to be addressed in his or her dealings with any public administration at the national level of government in any official South African language of his or her choice.

(4) Regional differentiation in relation to language policy and practice shall be permissible.

(5) A provincial legislature may, by a resolution adopted by a majority of at least two- thirds of all its members, declare any language referred to in subsection (1) to be an official language for the whole or any part of the province and for any or all powers and functions within the competence of that legislature, save that neither the rights relating to language nor the status of an official language as existing in any area or in relation to any function at the time of the commencement of this Constitution, shall be diminished.

(6) Wherever practicable, a person shall have the right to use and to be addressed in his or her dealings with any public administration at the provincial level of government in any one of the official languages of his or her choice as contemplated in subsection (5).

(7) A member of Parliament may address Parliament in the official South African language of his or her choice.

(8) Parliament and any provincial legislature may, subject to this section, make provision by legislation for the use of official languages for the purposes of the functioning of government, taking into account questions of usage, practicality and expense.

(9) Legislation, as well as official policy and practice, in relation to the use of languages at any level of government shall be subject to and based on the provisions of this section and the following principles:

(10) (a) Provision shall be made by an Act of Parliament for the establishment by the Senate of an independent Pan South African Language Board to promote respect for the principles referred to in subsection (9) and to further the development of the official South African languages.

4 Supremacy of the Constitution

(1) This Constitution shall be the supreme law of the Republic and any law or act inconsistent with its provisions shall, unless otherwise provided expressly or by necessary implication in this Constitution, be of no force and effect to the extent of the inconsistency.

(2) This Constitution shall bind all legislative, executive and judicial organs of state at all levels of government.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.